Packaging: get it right!

Finding ways to minimise the high cost of packaging is an ongoing challenge.

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The worst way to cut costs is to buy cheap, poorly designed packaging. This will fail to protect the product properly, leading to lower prices and more discards. At the risk of angering the banana industry, I must say that the standard 18kg banana carton has to be one of the worst out there. I have always maintained that it is too long and has inadequate support in the middle. Examine the pallets of bananas at any market and you will inevitably find that the bottom layer (or even two) of cartons has collapsed. This causes fruit damage, which inevitably reduces the price.

Yes, the carton does have corner supports, but it remains a flimsy, inadequate piece of packaging. It is also an awkward size to handle. On many occasions, I’ve seen a packer simply drop cartons onto each other because that’s the easy way. One could, of course, go to the other extreme by using tougher material, stronger fluting, and a centre support, but the cost of packaging must be in line with the average price received for the product.

Bananas might be the biggest-selling fruit in the country, but their value does not justify elaborate, high-grade packaging of the kind used for niche products such as berries. However, their overall value in terms of money and health benefits is high enough to justify improved packaging, leading to less damage and therefore improved sales and income.

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Do the best for your brand
Packaging is also a valuable tool for branding and product promotion. Look at the many other fruit and vegetables which are found in sturdy, attractive, protective packaging – it works! There’s nothing worse than a semi-squashed carton with your brand displayed for all to see. And banana cartons have a high rate of second- hand usage, so your brand continues to appear – usually upside down – in a messed-up carton carrying somebody else’s lettuces. Hardly the best way to proudly market your name, is it?

Surely the ‘banana boys’ – and others – can see the benefits of getting their packaging right.